HON. FRANCIS EDWARD BABU
MINISTER OF STATE FOR WORKS, HOUSING AND COMMUNICATION
TO THE SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL
ASSEMBLY FOR AN OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE HABITAT AGENDA (ISTANBUL + 5)
NEW YORK 6th - 8th June, 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of Uganda and on my own behalf, I stand here to address this august Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. I am privileged to be part of this assembly to appraise the progress so far made since the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul Turkey, June 1996. To me, the Government and people of Uganda this is an opportunity to audit performance on what we concurred upon five years down the road.
Uganda participated fully in the Regional Meeting which took my government place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 200 and subscribes to the Addis Ababa Declaration on Human Settlements. In that Declaration African Member states re?affirm their commitments to the Habitat Agenda endorsed in Istanbul 1996 under;
.adequate shelter for all
.sustainable human settlements
.all inclusive participation and
.gender equality and mainstreaming among others.
Uganda looks forward to seeing the major elements of the Addis?Ababa Declaration incorporated in the final Declaration on "Cities and other Human Settlements in the new Millennium" as they offer useful and pro?active guidelines in our resolve to better our human settlements.
Uganda urges that poverty eradication and debt relief should form the core of the Declaration. All other aspects revolve around these two. A hungry man is an angry man. He cannot listen to all the talk about democracy, good governance, shelter for all and all the paraphenalia of family values etc. We are all aware that sustainable development is a key element in the Habitat Agenda. The Government of Uganda has placed poverty eradication on its highest priority Agenda. It formulated a comprehensive Poverty Eradication Action Plan in 1997 and established a Poverty Action Fund to finance poverty related activities. Poverty eradication is now the key factor in the appraisal and viability of the national budget, expenditure prioritization and planning.
Currently, the entire Public Investment Plan is fully tailored towards eradication of poverty. This has so far resulted in the reduction of poverty levels from 56% in 1992 to 35% in the year 2001.
There is dire need for our development partners to enhance support towards poverty eradication by contributing the internationally agreed upon target of 0.7 percent of their gross national product for overall development assistance part of which should be earmarked for a filter down to the least developed countries for poverty eradication.
Uganda has achieved a significant reduction in poverty. This reduction has been possible mainly due to macro?economic stability and adherence to economic reforms undertaken by government since 1986. As a result Uganda qualified for and accessed debt relief. Conditionalities paged on debt relief should be relaxed.
Funds raising from the debt relief has been fundamental for the progress made over the last few years in implementing the Poverty Eradication Action Plan. From experience Uganda fully advocates for full debt relief for developing countries under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), Initiative.
Governance is critical to sustainable human settlements development. Within the framework of the policy for governance based on decentralization and governments enabling policy on housing, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) have been empowered to plan and implement on self?help basis shelter and human settlements development programmes.
Gender issues are another critical factor to be mainstreamed for sustainable human settlements development.
A number of affirmative interventions have already been adopted and implemented to uplift and protect women as well as other vulnerable groups.
Allow me to highlight areas where Uganda has attempted to implement the Habitat Agenda and where it can share invaluable experiences with this august assembly.
Uganda appreciates the overriding cruciality of land and land tenure in human settlements and development in general. As Charles Abrams said long ago "the surer and land tenure the deeper the building." I am proud to say that the Uganda's Constitution has vested ownership of land in the hands of the citizens of Uganda. It recognizes all the different tenure systems under which land is held including customary land tenu re and freehold tenure. In addition, the new Land Act passed in 1998 has granted Security of tenure to former squatters on Land if they had lived and farmed on that land for a period of twelve years prior to its enactment.
The Land Act 1998 and the Constitution also provide for fair, prompt compensation to be paid to owners whenever land is acquired for public use.
Furthermore, the Condominium Property Act 2001 has been enacted to increase secure tenure. Under this law, the former tenants of sectional properties like apartments now have the opportunity to acquire titles and enjoy harmonious use of sectional properties.
With regard to governance, Uganda has fully embraced decentralization and democratic governance. The Local Government Act passed in 1997 provides a legal framework for operationalisation of the decentralized governance. The Government has fully decentralized executive and legislative powers as well as powers to make decisions of a fiscal nature, to the local Governments. It is in the process of gradually devolving the development budget as well.
On management of the environment, National Environment Management Authority has been set up and the statute empowers this Authority to oversee all matters of environmental concern in Uganda. The concept of Public Private Partnerships for Urban Environment (PPPUE) is being introduced in Uganda with a held of UNDP and is aimed at improving basic services and infrastructure. Uganda commends this Public Private Initiative and there is commitment to implement it as a measure towards improving the living environment in the country.
Uganda just like other developing Member States of the UN has faced a number of challenges in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. These
. Poverty and unemployment which negatively affect and
incapacitate most households in their efforts to improve their
housing conditions and quality of life.
. Institutional weaknesses caused by inadequate capacity at all levels
I wish to register our appreciation for the assistance that our developing partners have extended to Uganda in its multi-pronged effort to improve the lives of its people.
My Government is looking towards solving the above problems with the support of the international community and other development partners to complement our national efforts in mobilizing resources for improvement and development of sustainable human settlements.
In Istanbul, Uganda had high hopes that the International Community would start according human settlements issues the attention it deserves.
It is very disappointing to note that little international assistance
has been provided so far for the implementation of national plans of action
particularly in the African Region.
We trust and believe that this time our wishes and commitments in the whole process of Istanbul +5 will be fulfilled and that all stakeholders will play their part in ensuring that we forge ahead with the proposed future initiatives.
I beg to conclude by thanking you all for your attention and wishing you fruitful deliberations.
For God and my Country.